Bishop John Fleming of Killala has issued a Pastoral Letter for Holy Week 2020.
At the outset of his letter, Bishop Fleming reminds us of Ash Wednesday, when we were reminded of our frailty by receiving ash on our foreheads. He says, “We were advised by Jesus in the Gospel not to parade our faith in public but rather ‘when you pray go to your private room.’ How prophetic these words were then and how much they have become a reality in our lives five weeks later. Due to the Covid-19 crisis all people have been reminded of their frailty, and for many, living rooms have become places for prayer and participation in the celebration of Mass.”
Bishop Fleming emphasises, “Lent 2020 has seen much fear and distress”. Illness, death, uncertainty, and isolation have all been present in our daily lives during this Lenten Season.
However, the Bishop assures us that we are not alone, “In the Old Testament the constant advice given by God to his people is; ‘call on me in the day of distress and I will free you and you will honour me’. (Psalm 50)”.
Bishop Fleming continues, “On Good Friday we will listen to Christ’s appeal to his Father in the day of his distress; ‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?’ Let us join Christ in his distress and call on God for deliverance; remembering that Christ’s prayer was answered with joy of the resurrection. And after this time of distress and suffering, joy will also return to us.”
To doctors, nurses, carers, ambulance drivers, An Garda Siochána, neighbours, and the HSE, Bishop Fleming expresses “great and genuine thanks”. He adds, “a sincere word of thanks to our priests who are always ready to continue their care for the sick and elderly, bury our dead with dignity and with prayer, offer faith and consolation to those who call on them, keep our churches open, where possible, celebrate Mass on their own and place themselves in danger of contracting this virus.”
Bishop Fleming concludes, “If you have a Bible, read Psalm 50 in full; if you haven’t one Mr Google can come to your rescue. This psalm has a lot to say to us just now. ‘Call on me in the day of your distress, I will rescue you and you will honour me.’ Add to this, the prayer of St John Henry Newman: Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on… I do not ask to see the distant scene… one step enough for me.
“May the hope and joy of Easter become a reality in our lives and world.”
To read the Pastoral Letter in full, click here.